Are slums an African curse so the question has been asked? If you thought that flying toilets, sun warmed garbage, bubbling sewers, run away crime among other societal evils rampant in the slums are uniquely a Kenyan shame, you haven’t heard anything yet.

In this photo taken Thursday, July 26, 2012, a child stand in front of his demolished stilt house at Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria. The teeming, floating Makoko slum rises out of the murky lagoon water that separates mainland Nigeria from the island that gave birth to its largest city, a permanent haze of smoke rising from its homes built on timber stilts. A government-led eviction last week that saw men in speedboats destroy homes with machetes there left about 3,000 people homeless and raised new fears among activists that authorities may try to wipe it out the area entirely. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Photo Courtesy (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Far away from home, a Kenyan priest heading a Parish in one of the biggest slums in Lagos City in Nigeria, Father Emmanuel Sikuku Likoko had a chat with award-winning journalist Alex Chamwada.

As part of a must watch exclusive interview on This week’s episode of The Chamwada Report, Alex will be comparing the slum situation in Kenya to that in Nigeria through the eyes of the Kenyan Father.

Born and raised in Kitale, he was ordained as a priest in 1997 with his first posting in Northern Nigerian before being transferred to Lagos. “In Amukoko slums where my Parish is located, you see people carrying plastic paper bags; they contain urine and human waste which will be thrown in trenches and open places. There are no toilets here. It is bad,” he said.

There are nine major slums in Lagos, the most populous city on the continent. After Cairo, it is the fastest growing city in Africa, with a population, according to UN estimates, that will rise to 25 million by 2025. The current population is about 20 million or at least three times that of Nairobi city.

While those who are eligible to vote do so faithfully every election year with the hope that politicians will keep their words, father Lukoko disagrees. “A responsible government cannot encourage the growth of a slum, but that is where those in government get their votes. Even here in Lagos, the government does not care about them. There are no schools, there are no hospitals, no roads, no drainage but when it comes to votes this is where they will spend their time.”

And that is the grim reality of African politics. Some must be kept in the slums to act as political capital to facilitate the ambitions of the few. Their hopes are raised through empty promises just before elections and swiftly crushed after the candidates have won. Because of the overwhelming need of the populace, politicians give handouts as a bait to temporarily quench the fury of their failed policies.

Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and a place that also boasts as a home to Africa’s billionaires, the viewers will be shown the grim reality of the wide gap between the rich and the poor. The oil-rich nation is facing an imminent risk of being crushed by the weight of corruption. While the citizens are honoring their end of the bargain of paying taxes, this money ends up in the pockets of a few while the majority of the masses don’t get the services they deserve.

Statistics indicates that more than 50 percent of the world population is now in urban areas. Five billion people or 60 percent of the world population will live in urban areas by 2030 and 90 percent of world urban population growth between now and 2030 will take place in developing countries. About 70 percent of the global population lives in slum communities.

In Nairobi city, about 60 percent of the population lives in informal settlements. While in Lagos city two out of three people live or about 66 percent of the population live in similar conditions. All slums in the world have similar challenges including poor sanitation, poor road infrastructure and lack of drainage channels.

Father Likoko who is very passionate about development strongly feels like this should stop for these people’s dignity to be restored.

“There are criminal gangs here. We call them area boys, it is a culture that has developed, they control streets. But we have groups like vigilantes and also the streets around if you do not involve vigilante groups, people will be attacked while coming to church if you do not pay vigilantes you are not safe. Area boys control what is happening on the streets. If you want to repair your house you have to pay them. They are like Mungiki but they are not violent. If you are driving around, if you don’t pay them they can break your camera. They are a nuisance, but they have become part of the society,” he lamented.

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Author: Dannish Odongo

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